Living artwork breathes life into Green Square

Maria Fernanda Cardoso, While I Live I Will Grow - photo by Damian Shaw_City of SydneyA new living artwork featuring bottle trees and natural sandstone will grow in time with the expanding Green Square community and allow people of all ages to interact with the work.

While I Live I Will Grow by Maria Fernanda Cardoso was unveiled at the former Royal South Sydney Hospital site as part of the launch of the $32 million Green Square community and cultural precinct on Saturday 26 May. The public artwork is one of four works commissioned by the City for Green Square’s current and future communities.

“This is a beautiful, living artwork that will grow with the Green Square community,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore. “The artwork is situated alongside our new early education centre to be enjoyed by local children and their parents, artists working in the cultural centre and residents living nearby.”

Based in Sydney, the Colombian-born artist is known for her unconventional use of materials and takes inspiration from nature. “I wanted to make an artwork that will become better and better in years to come, instead of deteriorating and decaying over time,” said Ms Cardoso.

“Bottle trees can live over 100 years and reach four metres in diameter. We’ve planted seven bottle trees and 13 grass trees, which can live several hundreds of years. This artwork celebrates the trees’ unusual and charismatic shapes as they grow and provides meaning for people to reflect on – art and life, form and content.”

“The Sydney sandstone blocks allowed me to give more meaning to the piece by symbolising growth in a spiral form. To emphasise the idea of growth over time, I stacked another layer of giant stone blocks to create a double spiral. Made in heights that people can sit on, the double spiral forms an amphitheatre to observe the growth of the trees for at least the next 100 years.”

Ms Cardoso has exhibited her work in major museums and galleries in the US, Latin America, Australia and Europe, including Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery in Canberra and the Tate Gallery in London.

The artwork is part of a $4 million the City Art program to integrate public art into Green Square’s public spaces, overseen by curatorial advisor Amanda Sharrad.

“The first of three permanent artworks to be realised for the program, this is Maria Fernanda Cardoso’s largest and most ambitious work to date,” said Ms Sharrad. “Cardoso has created an exceptional artwork to behold and a place to inhabit and explore. Community are invited to sit, rest, climb and engage with this artwork.

“The magnificent bottle trees emulate the water management strategies necessary for ecological renewal and remind us of our ability to adapt to change and grow inwardly as we age.”

The community and cultural precinct sits within the 278-hectare Green Square development area, which includes the suburbs of Beaconsfield and Zetland, and parts of Rosebery, Alexandria and Waterloo.

The City of Sydney is spending $540 million over the next 10 years on extensive infrastructure and streetscaping throughout the area, as well as new community facilities that also include a library and plaza, aquatic and recreation centre and more than 15 parks and open spaces.

When fully developed, Green Square will accommodate close to 61,000 people living in 30,500 new homes, and provide around 21,000 permanent jobs. For more information about the artwork and the City Art collection, visit: for details.

Image: Maria Fernanda Cardoso, While I Live I Will Grow (aerial view) – photo by Damian Shaw / City of Sydney